By Collin Allen

Mac Mini TiVo

March 5, 2006

A recent article, originally written for Mercury News, claims that Apple has already rolled out what could be their big step into the living room environment. Apple’s newest release of Front Row features built-in Bonjour networking technology, allowing computers to find each other on a network and share media with zero setup.

I’m amazed at how often it comes up, though, that Apple doesn’t offer video recording capabilities out of the box.

The Mac mini doesn’t yet work as a TiVo-like digital video recorder, despite rumors and speculation before Tuesday’s event.

While it’s technically easy to build TV tuners into computers and write software for recording TV shows, the cable and satellite industries have yet to truly open their systems to hardware they don’t own.

I may be entirely off-base here, but I think Apple is looking past recording broadcast TV and ahead to internet-delivered entertainment. You can already have music and TV shows delivered via iTunes and stream them around wirelessly, so why strap down your Mac with coaxial cable, fickle schedules, and – the bane of modern media – advertisements. It seems like a step backwards, and one that Apple would be unlikely to take. Undoubtedly, they’re already working on new ways to get media to your various devices without having to resort to capturing, editing, and encoding. Leave the computationally heavy tasks to the people on the other end of your internet connection while you enjoy downloaded or streamed content with a lightweight client. A Mac Mini, perhaps.

Update: A step in the right direction: Apple is now offering a “Season Pass” for TV shows, allowing you to pay once for a season and get them as they are released.